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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 4255

Senator LUDWIG (Special Minister of State and Cabinet Secretary) (9:57 AM) —by leave—The Rudd government does not support this motion. The government is committed to improving the health of the Snowy River and supports the target levels of improved flows contained within the Snowy Waters Inquiry Outcomes Implementation Deed. That is why the government has committed an additional $50 million to the Water for Rivers initiative to purchase water and to invest in water efficiency savings in order to further boost environmental flows in the Snowy River.

I am advised that the process of acquiring water entitlements for the Snowy River under the Water for Rivers joint venture has been progressing well. However, in acquiring water entitlements for the Snowy River, senators should be aware that allocations under these entitlements are dependent on rainfall and inflows to rivers and water storages. At this point in time inflows and water storage levels are at exceptionally low levels right across south-eastern Australia. The government is aware of community concerns about the recommissioning of the Mowamba aqueduct. Earlier this year the relevant minister wrote to the New South Wales government Minister for Water requesting that the draft outcomes of its review of the Snowy water licence be released as soon as possible. As such the minister is expecting that the New South Wales government will release the draft review report shortly.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Siewert’s) be agreed to.